Kenney to announce plan to reboot Alberta economy

Diversification of the economy, bolstering the oil and gas sector and a massive injection of infrastructure spending are all expected as Premier Jason Kenney announces his long-term reboot plan for Alberta today.

The province has been battered by oil price wars and the COVID-19 pandemic and has seen its deficit balloon from a projected $7 billion to $20 billion this year.

Its most recent budget was based on oil fetching $58 US per barrel, a forecast critics called rosy at the time, and was rushed through the legislature as a battle between Saudi Arabia and Russia cratered the price and the global pandemic settled on Alberta.

Economists are predicting a severe recession in the once-booming province and even Kenney has warned of “a great fiscal reckoning” to come in a province that has tied its fortunes to the swings of its main commodity.

Kenney said on Friday that his plan will involve the largest-ever spending on public infrastructure, including areas such as health care and transportation.

There will also be a focus on diversifying the economy in critical growth sectors while buttressing the existing oil and gas industry.

In March, Kenney announced a 12-member economic advisory panel, including former prime minister Stephen Harper, to provide guidance on the relaunch.

Calgary, where Kenney will make the announcement today, has been particularly hard hit over the past few years by an oil price downturn that not only refuses to rebound.

Its downtown vacancy rate has been hovering around 25 per cent for years now, leaving a big hole in the tax base that is only expected to grow.

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi has said the city will require particular aid from the province and the federal government in order to ride out its current storm.


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